Difficult Run
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Interesting Places
Connecting Trails
10-mile Circuit Hike
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Cross-County Hike
Colvin Run Mill
Photo: Copyright 1982 by David T. Gilbert.

Colvin Run Mill Park and Village

Grand Central Station On The Difficult Run Trail

To hikers on the Difficult Run Trail, it sometimes seems as if all roads lead
Colvin Run Mill
Two people hiking end-to-end on the trail, starting at Colvin Run Mill.  
to Colvin Run Mill Park. Here the Colvin Run Trail intersects with the Difficult Run Trail. Also, the park provides both restrooms and water in season. Here also is a parking lot. The park's working mill, country store, blacksmith shop and Georgian miller's house, c. 1809, are destinations in their own rights.

Colvin (Carper's) Mill, now part of Colvin Run Mill Park, operated as a mill by Fairfax County Park Authority. With the intention of building a mill,
Miller's house
Miller's house undergoing rehabilitation, 1966-7. Photo: Eddie Printz.  
George Washington purchased the land on which the mill was built, but he died before building it. Mill was built c. 1811. The miller's house is c. 1809. The burr stones lining the hillside along the path to the mill were imported from France at a high cost. A good set of burr stones would last 100 years. These stones came from various mills. After the Civil War, the mill was less profitable, but it was a working mill until the late 1930's. National Register of Historic Places. Here FCPA also operates a working blacksmith forge. Here in 1972 Fairfax County designated a historic district, consisting of the park, some of the houses on either side of Colvin Run Road and some former houses to the south of Rte. 7. The trail goes through the historic district.

Colvin Run Village, or Leigh Corners, a half-mile up Colvin Run Road from the trail, features the Alfred Leigh house (1890), now a restaurant; Colvin Run School; a grange; and a working country store. Long before Tyson's Corner became an "edge city," Colvin Run Village was the largest settlement on Leesburg Pike between Falls Church and Leesburg:

  • In 1890, a gazetteer showed two general merchants and eleven farmers in addition to the millers.
  • By 1897 Colvin Run had its own magistrate, doctor and constable.
  • In 1906, in addition to the above, it had three blacksmiths, another doctor, four teachers, an undertaker and four more farmers. The village had its own baseball club.

The decade of 1910-1920 was the last one in which the village was a well-defined community. Once the roads were paved, the automobile provided a way to obtain services elsewhere. In 1941, Virginia relocated Route 7, bypassing the village. It fell into a slumber until Great Falls became a suburb of Washington.

The relocation of Route 7 also reduced the capacity of the mill pond. The owner of the mill filed suit against the state, in which he was eventually successful. History is about to repeat itself, because the Virginia Department of Transportation wants to widen Route 7 from two-lanes to three-lanes in each direction. One glance at the highway's proximity to the mill pond suggest that Colvin Run Mill park may suffer again.

See this site's interesting places on the Difficult Run Trail for more information.

Colvin Run Mill
The Mill as seen from the trail. Photo appears courtesy of The Friends of Colvin Run Mill.

Related Sites

The best site on Colvin Run Mill.

The official site.


Watch for the work on the flume and the waterwheel, mid-February

And watch for the new oak turn shaft, to be delivered in March (originally January)! The Virginia Department of Forestry donated the trunk of a white oak which was about 125 years old. The Washington Times ran an article on the harvesting of this tree on March 24, 2000.

Colvin Run Mill was selected to be a "Heritage and History Site" of the Amercian Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Last updated Dec 12, 2002.
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